Un-settling the Science

While James Comey was sucking up all the oxygen in the room, there was a pretty major science announcement last week.  It turns out that the human species might be much older than we originally thought.  Fossils found in Morocco place our earliest ancestors on the planet as far back as 350-thousand years ago.  Until now, the accepted time period for our evolutionary arrival was about 195-thousand years–in a different part of Africa.

 

What was neat about the announcement is that it was not immediately shot down by everyone else in the scientific community.  I didn’t see a single anthropologist say “the science on our evolution is settled–we are 195-thousand years old and anyone that tries to challenge that is an ‘evolutionary denier'”.  CNN didn’t convene a panel of scientists and “Bill Nye the Science Guy” to discredit the new findings.

 

Of course, there really isn’t a lot of money riding on determining the age of the human species.  The guy who found the fossils and developed the theory won’t be getting a Nobel Prize.  He probably won’t be making a documentary that will win an Oscar.  Nations with plenty to gain won’t be able to use the findings to weaken the economies of larger countries.  There are few investors that stand to make billions from industries related to an older human race.  And no one will be rushing to change textbooks to make sure that children have it drummed into their minds repeatedly that our species is older than we thought it was before last week.

 

Instead, there will be careful peer review of the findings–and if the facts point to that conclusion–everyone will say ‘we were wrong about the age of our species” and accept the new data.  No politics, no profits.  It’s a novel approach many like to call the “Scientific Method”.

 

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